The government funded, free over 75 TV Licence scheme is being replaced on 1 August 2020. Find out more.
The number of licences in force in the UK for the last ten financial years is shown below.
UK total number of licences in force*
|Financial year||No. of licences|
*As at the end of each financial year i.e. 31 March. These figures are approximations of the number of licences in force. They do not include concessionary licences held by Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) premises.
An address may require more than one licence (e.g. student accommodation). Therefore, it is the number of licences is shown here, rather than the number of addresses with a licence. The number of households and business premises with TV Licences cannot be readily extracted from the total number of licences in force, because such information is not specifically recorded for each licence.
As at March 2019, statistics from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) show that around 95% of UK households may be licensable.
As at 31 March 2019, 253,781 addresses were recorded on the TV Licensing database as being issued with more than one TV Licence. There are instances where it is legitimate to have more than one licence at an address, e.g. for student accommodation. In other cases, an address may temporarily be recorded as having more than one licence due to licence payers moving premises.
As at 31 March 2019, 6,883 black and white (mono) TV Licences were in force.
The BBC is not able to release personal data about other people (including names or addresses) as to do so would breach the data protection law. Information is collected and held for the purpose of administering the TV licensing system, not for other unrelated purposes.
The majority of BBC locations are covered by what is known as a ‘multi-licence’ which is a licence designed for large organisations with multiple sites. In the financial year 2018/19, 136 licences were purchased under the BBC multi-licence.
Information for licences held by the BBC’s commercial subsidiaries (BBC Resources Ltd, UKTV, BBC World News Ltd and BBC Worldwide Ltd) is not included in these figures because it is not subject to the FOI Act.
TV Licensing cancellations data is reported on a monthly basis and relates to licences in force where the licence has been cancelled by TV Licensing as a result of payment failure and by customers themselves. Consequently, these figures cannot be taken to mean solely the number of licences cancelled by customers.
The number of cancelled licences in force each month in the 2018/19 financial year is shown below.
* TV Licensing management information terms some cancellations as expired, depending on the circumstances of the cancellation, and these are not reported as cancelled licences. These figures do not include licences cancelled for customers aged 74 when they turn 75 because these fall within the Over 75 free licences category.
Additionally, figures may be re-stated following end of financial year audits and therefore figures released previously under the Freedom of Information Act are subject to revision.
The TV Licence fee – including concessions and payment amounts – is prescribed by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (opens in a new window) (as amended). The BBC is not responsible for these matters. You may wish to contact the government agency responsible for broadcasting in the UK – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (opens in a new window) – to raise any issues you may have about the legal framework for the licence fee. The Department’s address is 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ.
We recognise that some people may have difficulty paying for their TV Licence in one lump sum. A cash payment plan is available to allow for paying the licence fee in manageable instalments. Payments (by cash, debit or credit card) may be for as little as £6 a week.
People can also save towards the payment of their next licence by using a TV Licensing savings card.
TV Licensing works closely with money advice groups and other stakeholders to ensure that information about flexible payment methods reaches those who might benefit from it.
Information on the types of concessions and how you can apply for them can be found below:
BBC staff are not eligible for a reduced licence fee or a free TV Licence by virtue of the fact they work for the BBC.
BBC staff are eligible for concessions just like anyone else. Blind (severely sight-impaired) persons are eligible for a 50% concession on the licence fee, and persons aged 75 years or older are eligible for a free licence. The BBC doesn’t retain a list of staff members who receive concessions on their licence.
The BBC has previously been reimbursed by the government for the cost of issuing free TV Licences to persons aged 75 years and older. However, under the government’s funding arrangements agreed in July 2015 this funding is being phased out. The Department for Work and Pensions provided £468 million in 2018/19 and will provide £247 million in 2019/20.
From 1st April 2020 there will be no government funding for over 75 licences and from 1 August 2020, there will be a new scheme. Under the new scheme, anyone aged 75 or over who receives Pension Credit will still be eligible for a free TV Licence which the BBC will pay for. Households where there is no one aged 75 or over that receives Pension Credit will need to buy a licence if one is needed.
Further information is available at the following web-links to the TV Licensing and BBC websites, respectively:
The BBC doesn’t hold information on the number of people each year who reach 75 years old and become eligible for a free over 75 TV Licence. These figures may be available from the Department for Work and Pensions (opens in a new window).
At the end of March 2019, there were approximately 4.6 million free over 75 TV Licences in force. The number of over 75 TV Licences in force for the last ten financial years is shown below. This information is also available in the BBC Annual Report and Accounts.
|Financial year||Number of over 75 licences|
TV Licensing verifies the ages of persons who apply for free over 75 TV Licences by matching information provided by applicants with information held by the Department for Work and Pensions. The procedure followed by TV Licensing in doing so is as follows:
(i) TV Licensing checks that the title, name, national insurance number and date of birth supplied by the applicant matches information held by the Department for Work and Pensions.
(ii) Where a match is not found or a national insurance number cannot be supplied, TV Licensing will check any of the following documentation for proof of age:
If an applicant's name had changed, he or she will need to provide a copy of a marriage certificate or deed poll document.
(iii) If an applicant does not have any of the above documentation they can be advised to send TV Licensing a copy of any official document which contains their date of birth. TV Licensing will review this document for proof of age.
(iv) If all of the above checks fail, or if the applicant is not able to easily provide a document which contains proof of age, the applicant can request a visit from a TV Licensing visiting officer. The officer will call at the relevant address and make a decision based on the evidence given to them.
TV Licensing will attempt to confirm whether the property is still occupied by any member of the deceased person's family unit. If it is not, the TV Licence will be cancelled. If it is, the current year's licence will remain in force. TV Licensing will then attempt to seek additional information about the remaining occupant(s) of the property to assess the future licensing requirements of the property.
If a remaining occupant is over 74 (and does not hold an over 75 TV Licence elsewhere) then TV Licensing will either process an application for a short term TV Licence or a free licence for the occupant, with the licence term to start from the expiry date of the current licence.
If no remaining occupant is over 74 then TV Licensing will send a renewal notice to the address before the expiry of the current licence as a new licence should be purchased once that expires, if one is required.
The names of these companies are as follows:
The BBC also holds this information, and it may be accessed by staff employed in the BBC's TV Licensing Management Team. The addresses of the BBC and these companies are listed below:
The British Broadcasting Corporation
Capita Business Services
India Mill Business Centre
Proximity London Ltd
90 Southwark Street
Data protection law governs how the BBC and its TV Licensing agents process personal data. This law is contained in the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR) and associated legislation including the Data Protection Act 2018.
The BBC doesn't hold information on the number of over 75 TV Licences issued by local authority or parliamentary constituency.